SUBLIMINAL IS DIFFERENT FOR DOGS – Marilyn Armstrong

Word Prompt: Subliminal

Our three dogs think they have the whole subliminal thing down pat. Like last night.

Thunder was rolling through the valley. Not very loud thunder, but definitely thunder. Rolling. It might mean rain … or just the heat of the day breaking up. Our dogs are not particularly nervous about noise. Guns, fire-crackers, thunder? Meh. Only when lightning actually hits the house does everyone — human and otherwise — react.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

It’s hard to not react when a bolt of lightning hits the house or relatively nearby. It hit a pole in front of the house and burned out two computers — and they weren’t even turned on. It hit the pump in our well — 450 feet (that would be almost 138 meters) underground.

I thought that was really weird, but the guy from the insurance company was unphased. He said the combination of electric current, iron, and water had a way of enticing lightning. Not so unusual after all.

I was really unbelievably grateful we had insurance!

Meanwhile, our dogs have figured out when there’s a storm, we check on them, just to make sure they aren’t getting weird. I don’t think they have any idea why we check on them, but they know it’s something about storms, so as the thunder roared across the valley, they poked their three little noses into the bedroom.

Bonnie was first because she’s the dominant canine. Also, she knows Garry will let her do anything.

“Hi there,” she said, waving a furry black paw.

Gibbs’ nose appeared next. “Hi Mom, Dad. How’re things hanging with youse guys?”

Of course, The Duke was grinning up at us. Panting a little bit and using one of his front paws to point to the kitchen. Where the food is. Because nothing makes a dog less apprehensive about rolling thunder than a quick snack.

They were so cute that I got up and gave them one of the little treats.

Gibbs

We have treats in three sizes. Small, which isn’t small unless your dog is a Wolfhound or St. Bernard. Pretty small, which is maybe the size of the upper joint of your thumb. And teeny, tiny … maybe the size of my littlest fingernail. That’s the one I give them when they are looking particularly beefy. They are all permanently on a diet, too.

But since they’d gotten me up and into the kitchen once, they were sure they had it nailed. As I was getting back into bed I heard the little “scratch, scratch” on the door. This is a big improvement over Bonnie and Duke’s previous method which was to fling themselves — TOGETHER — against the door.

Our interior door are not all that sturdy and this usually meant an explosion of dogs into the bedroom.  That did not go over well with me. Garry, of course, slept through it. Will he sleep through it after he can hear? Because having your dogs break down your door is pretty damned loud, deaf or not. Even if you can’t hear it, you can certainly FEEL it.

We discussed the whole “breaking down the door” thing. I explained that if they didn’t cut it out, I was going to put all of them into crates. They didn’t like that idea.

So now, it’s a gentle scratch and if I didn’t fully close the door, a little push and a few noses in the doorway.

That is our dogs’ version of subliminal. Really subtle. Below the level of our inferior human understanding.

Duke is smart. Too smart for his own good and not as smart as he thinks — and seems to feel we need clear instructions about how to do what we ought to do. Since he can’t type, he points. With paws and nose and sometimes, entire body.

They all lick their jowls, just in case we aren’t clear that what they are hoping for is food.

After I told them to cut it out and settle down, they did. But don’t imagine for a moment that they’ve given up. All the subtle hints — like pushing the 40-pound crate of food into the living room, for example — will continue. I suppose we could try to discipline our dogs. Make them “obey” us. But I’ve never really had an obedient dog.

They all do pretty much whatever they want, even when they know better. I don’t really mind because they are much more fun “au naturale.”